It’s that time of year again and your cat is thinking you’ve got a new toy for them. The only problem is that it’s not a toy at all. It’s your Christmas tree, but your cat doesn’t know that they’re not supposed to be playing with all the shiny ornaments or climbing through the branches. It’s a tree-lema many of us face every year, but there are some cat-proofing techniques you can do to make the holidays meowy - and safe - for everyone.
While pine, spruce, fir, and other trees commonly used for Christmas trees are not toxic for cats to simply be around, they can cause serious issues if ingested. The needles are toxic and can cause obstructions in the intestines, and the sap can lead to gastrointestinal upset. The water is particularly harmful as it can contain fertilizers, pesticides, and other incredibly harmful and deadly chemicals that are leached out of the tree. If you opt for a real tree, be sure to cover the water supply up tightly by using a plastic lid or citrus to keep your kitty from drinking it. Always keep the floor clear of needles and sap by vacuuming and cleaning around your tree often. You can avoid the risks of toxic water entirely by going for a fake tree this year instead.
Your new tree looks like a new playground to your cat, and once you add all those glittery ornaments? Who can blame them! What your cat doesn’t realize is that your tree can easily fall over with the extra weight from them and come crashing down. Ensuring your tree is securely anchored to the floor with a heavy tree base and tethered to the ceiling with some wire or fishing line can add extra support. Don’t forget that cats are athletic, so putting your tree somewhere it can’t be jumped to from another piece of furniture is key.
A lot of those little bulbs certainly look like cat toys, but many can be easily broken or ingested leaving kitty not-so jolly and at an unwanted vet visit. Keep fragile ornaments towards the top of your tree and away from the bottom where it’s easier for your cat to reach. Tinsel is an extremely tempting decoration that should be skipped altogether. It’s easy for your cat to swallow and get stuck in their intestines, so while the tinsel is a sparkly, cheap decoration, the vet visit won’t be. Lights should be strung tightly to your tree, taking care that no wires are sticking out loosely where your cat can reach them. Always unplug your tree when not in use.
A few other options to consider are getting a smaller tree that can be kept in a secure location away from your cat or using citrus to deter chewing or climbing. If your cat has been around your tree and starts showing signs of lethargy, vomiting or loss of appetite, call animal poison control immediately (888)–426-4435.
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